MDF vs. Solid Wood Cabinet Doors

MDF vs. Solid Wood Cabinet Doors

When searching for new cabinets for your kitchen, one of the big decisions you will face is around the material used for the doors. Options are a-plenty and include plywood, particle board, solid wood and MDF. Often the style that you are after will determine the materials used, as each have both unique characteristics and limitations when used for cabinet door construction.

To help debunk some myths and explain the best uses of various cabinetry materials, we’ve broken it down for you by material.

Plywood Cabinet Doors

Plywood is rarely used but can be the material of choice for some cabinet makers when constructing slab or flat panel doors. Furniture grade plywood with a hardwood veneer face layered over a softwood plywood core can produce solid slab doors. A veneer tape applied to the edges will ensure a good match to the fronts. The layered construction of plywood doesn’t allow for the machining of the face so they really are only suited to slab style doors.

A photo of three plywood sheets in a stack.
Plywood creates a strong base for building cabinet boxes, but has limits if used for cabinet doors.

Solid Wood Cabinet Doors

Solid hardwood doors in maple, oak or cherry are commonly used for stained doors where the natural beauty of the wood grain is both enhanced and protected by a professionally applied finish.   Wood doors are strong and durable, and scratches or dents can be repaired with a little sanding and a coat of matching stain. Stained wood doors are a great choice for homeowners wanting a classic looking kitchen using a traditional design that shows off both the beauty and the sturdiness of hardwood doors.

As a painted door however, solid wood has its limitations. As durable as solid wood is, it also has a weakness of expansion and contraction when exposed to varying degrees of humidity. Just like a solid wood entry door that seems a little harder to close in the heat of summer, solid wood cabinet doors will expand in high humidity as they accept more moisture and contract in the winter as the air dries out. Since most cabinet doors are constructed using stiles and rails that frame a center panel, changes in humidity can cause the joints between the rails to shift ever so slightly as the wood expands or contracts.

On a painted door these small shifts between the joints can result in a hairline break in the painted surface resulting in a dark line at the joint. Over time as seasons pass and the wood continues to expand and contract, these breaks can lead to the paint actually chipping at the joints making for a less than perfect looking door in just a few years.

A man installing wooden cabinet doors into a kitchen.
Wood cabinetry has unique variation and texture when left unpainted.

MDF Kitchen Cabinet Doors

MDF, or Medium Density Fiberboard, like plywood, is a manufactured wood product that combines wood fibers with resin. While plywood uses thin layers of wood sandwiched together with pressure and glue, MDF uses compressed wood fibers and glue. When manufacturing MDF, wood chips are sorted, cleaned, and fed into a defibrator that uses rotating disks to break the wood chips down to small fibers. Wax and resin are added and the fibers are then dried and become fluffy. The fluffy fibers are then arranged into mats, and compacted by heat and pressure to form the dense sheets of material available at the local building supply store.

MDF is denser than hardwood and offers a much smoother finish with no grain. This makes MDF an ideal material for making painted cabinet doors. Due to its density and consistent structure, MDF can be machined using high speed CNC cutting tools to create a variety of different 3-D profiles perfect for cabinet doors.

A two-piece shaker cabinet door constructed using MDF will consist of a single piece forming the four-sided frame and another piece used for the center panel. MDF will expand and contract although less so than hardwoods, but since the frame and the centre of the door are made of the same material they move together. With a the shaker frame machined as a single piece, there are no joints to split apart like solid wood rails and stiles. The super smooth and consistent surface of MDF allows for a high-end painted finish, while solid wood doors are harder to achieve a glass like painted finish, as deep grain and knots create rough areas that paint accentuates.

Painted white shaker MDF cabinet doors in a contemporary kitchen.
MDF can be precisely cut, sanded and painted for a glass like finish.

Painted Cabinet Doors

When designing your space with painted cabinetry in mind, a professional looking finish is easily achieved by using MDF cabinetry. Before tackling a large painting job, or ordering solid wood doors to paint, consider the variety of quality cabinet door styles available in MDF. If you’re feeling adventurous, order them raw or primed and paint them yourself!

5 Common Questions about MDF

Is MDF Waterproof?

  • MDF as a material on it’s own is not waterproof. But by painting the surface of MDF it does become highly water resistant and is recommended for use in high humidity like bathrooms and kitchens. It’s also a favorite for cottages to hold strong with hot and humid summers, while staying beautiful in your lakeside retreat!

Is MDF Stronger than Plywood?

  • Plywood is stronger than MDF and for this reason plywood is the choice for floor sheeting cabinet wall construction. The cross graining of plywood makes it an ideal choice over MDF for those areas in the home where weight is applied.

Is MDF a Sustainable Product?

  • MDF is made using wood products that might otherwise be discarded – in other words it is a sustainable use of wood fiber. In most regions MDF is a recyclable product that stays out of landfills and is used for making other wood products.

Is MDF Safe to Work With?

  • When cutting or shaping any wood product dust is created that can cause nose and eye irritation and MDF is no different. Protective eye-wear, dust masks and proper ventilation are always recommend when working with any wood product.

What is the difference between one piece, two piece, or five piece MDF cabinet doors?

  • One piece doors are manufactured by routering out the cabinet door design from one piece of MDF. Due to the way they are made, it is more difficult to achieve precision in cutting and sanding in tight areas like corners or where the rails and stiles meet the center panels.
  • Two piece doors consist of a frame made from one piece of MDF, and a flat center panel inserted into the frame. This method produces doors that allow for easier finishing, are less prone to warping, and provide a more stable finished product.
  • Five piece doors are created with each rail and stile cut and assembled in a frame, and attached to a center panel. These doors have more seams which can result in a less stable door at the corners than a two piece door.

If a custom looking painted kitchen is what you’ve always dreamed of, choose trusted MDF products to bring your kitchen refacing project to the next level.

8 Tips for Planning your Kitchen Renovation

8 Tips for Planning your Kitchen Renovation

Deciding to renovate a kitchen is a big step. Aside from the financial commitment there are several decisions that need to be made before the first hammer is swung, and most of these decisions will have an impact on the budget. With homeowners tackling more DIY projects to save big on home improvements, a DIY kitchen renovation is a project that will have a big impact on your home for years to come.

1. Do your research

Doing some research into the different options for a kitchen renovation can introduce new kitchen ideas to a homeowner that may have otherwise been overlooked. The usual sources such as Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube are great places to start and can provide motivation and direction on style and color palettes.

Big Box hardware stores introduce cabinet types and finishes and are a great place to see a wide array of options under one roof. Good research should expose all the options available for a DIY reno, but also give some guidelines as to cost of materials. It’s important to learn which parts of the reno you can tackle yourself, and which should be hired out to professionals.

A open concept kitchen with white shaker cabinet doors and large windows.
Find photos that inspire you and highlight the elements you want in your own space.

2. Prioritize your kitchen reno needs and wants

As fun as home renovation shows are to watch, they can set some unrealistic expectations for the average homeowner. Renovations that provide a big wow factor for an on-screen reveal might not offer the best solution for a typical family or its budget. Make a list, and consider all the things that your current kitchen is not doing for you.

Do you need more storage, more countertop space, a better layout, modern lighting, a gas range or all of the above plus a $25,000 Gaggenau Wine Cabinet? Prioritize your needs over wants and then see how the two lists mesh together. Determining costs for each often helps refine the list and define priorities. If it’s not in the budget this year, decide which items can be purchased at a later time, without requiring re-work to your kitchen.

3. Determine kitchen finishes and costs

Once you’ve done your research and built a list of priorities, it’s time to build pricing for each element of your renovation. Sourcing three prices for each item is a good idea especially with big-ticket items like countertops and appliances. Cabinet box and doors prices can vary widely depending on the materials and finishes.

Kitchen Cabinet Doors

At the low-end of the budget are vinyl wrapped doors constructed using either one piece or five pieces of material. At the high-end are solid wood doors, usually stained to show off the wood grains. A good middle ground is painted MDF doors as they offer an excellent balance of durability and price and are available in several styles including the ever-popular Shaker.


Countertops are available at all price points as well. Though inexpensive, laminate countertops have come a long way since the 80’s and are available in several finishes and textures, some of which look an awful lot like actual stone. Concrete countertops are another DIY project, but the results can vary, and the look is something that needs to be designed around.

For stone countertops the two most common materials are Quartz and Granite. Quartz is a manufactured product using a high concentration of quartz crystals and resin. Quartz is a popular choice as the manufacturing process ensures a consistent look throughout the countertop, allows for a variety of styles, and provides a durable, non-porous work surface. Granite has lost some ground to quartz over the last decade due to Quartz’s strength and durability. Granite, being a natural stone cut down to slabs from actual rock formations, can vary widely from piece to piece as the veining and quartzite formations make each piece of Granite a unique piece of art.

A set of four square samples of quartz for a kitchen countertop replacement.
Quartz comes in a wide variety of colors, styles and textures, and is a durable work surface.


Appliance pricing ranges from affordable to “costing more than a new car” and come with a wide variety of different features and capabilities. Online consumer reviews are a great source for evaluating appliances. Seeking brands with a good reputation and a beefy warranty is usually a good investment.

4. Finalize your kitchen renovation budget – add 20% for “just in case”

Equipped with your research and product costs, take another look at your budget. Like many, you may find that you’ve exceeded your initial renovation budget. If so, and expanding the budget is not an option, dive into each element of your kitchen renovation and determine where you can save. Big cost reductions can be found in removing elements altogether, like not installing that island or keeping an older appliance. 

Savings can also be found by choosing less expensive finishes; opt for quartz countertops instead of marble, or laminate instead of granite. Where possible, you might choose to pay for items in installments to avoid the stress of a big bill in a single month. Building in a contingency to your renovation budget of 10-20% is good practice and can help cover any unexpected surprises that come up as renovation progresses.

A piggy bank on a wooden countertop with white kitchen cabinets in the background.

5. Figure out what you can DIY to lower costs

Really want to stretch your budget? Take a good look at your renovation and see what you can tackle on your own. Hiring a contractor means offloading the heavy lifting, but at a high price. Doing It Yourself is  a great way to maximize your budget and the savings can be put toward selecting better finishes. If you are unsure of your abilities, do some research. YouTube and Instagram’s biggest contributors are homeowners turned DIY guru’s who tackle DIY projects and provide tips and instructions to their followers. You will likely be surprised at what you can accomplish (and save) by picking up a drill and going for it.

6. Green is good, determine what can be repurposed

In older homes, some fixtures including cabinetry, are much better built than what is available today. The same logic applies to hardwood flooring and some bathroom fixtures. Take a hard look and see what you can live with if it were given a bit of TLC and revitalized. Bathtubs can be re-glazed and hardwood floors sanded and refinished. Cabinetry can be sanded, painted and reborn with new doors and drawer fronts. Even if you decide to replace, your items may have value on the used market or be donated to a worthwhile cause like Habitat for Humanity or ReStore.

7. Spend on quality kitchen upgrades

Buy quality whenever you can. Spend money wisely by choosing quality where it counts, usually countertops, cabinet doors and appliances. Quality is important for both real estate considerations but also living in your home long-term. By opting for as much quality as you can afford, you are likely to get the most mileage out of your purchase. Things like expensive pull-out racks for pantry cabinets or in-cabinet organizers can always be added a year or two down the road once your budget allows for it – often for the same price as when your kitchen is being installed. Gadgets are neat but can chew up a budget, instead, spend on the best countertop and cabinet doors you can afford.

An image of kitchen appliances in a showroom style including fridges, stoves, ovens, coffee makers, and more.
Choosing higher end appliances can expand the time between replacing units.

8. Make a renovation plan and stick to it

You’ve done the research, picked your finishes and figured out how much DIY you can handle. Stick to the plan and your budget should hold. The excitement of a reno can lead to a lot of “it makes sense to do it now” type of project add-ons, which can add up quickly, so stick to your plan as much as possible. A kitchen completed on budget will give you and your wallet peace of mind, and a space you can enjoy for years to come.

The 8 Tips for Your Kitchen DIY Renovation:

1.      Do your research

2.      Prioritize your needs and wants

3.      Determine your kitchen finishes and costs

4.      Finalize your budget, then add 20%

5.      DIY to save costs

6.      Green is good

7.      Spend on quality kitchen upgrades

8.      Make a renovation plan and stick to it

Update Your Kitchen with Custom Dovetail Drawers

Update Your Kitchen with Custom Dovetail Drawers

Taking on a kitchen cabinet refacing project is a cost-effective way to upgrade the aesthetic of your kitchen. It is also an ideal time to upgrade the utility of your kitchen by replacing broken or worn out drawer boxes with new, high quality, dovetail drawers with soft close undermount slides.  

Drawer boxes endure a lot of abuse in a kitchen, repetitive slamming causes items to shift, eventually weaking the joints of the drawer. Dovetail drawer boxes are the most durable method of constructing drawer boxes and when paired with soft close undermount slides are a simple way yet highly functional upgrade to your kitchen.  

A side view of four kitchen cabinet drawers, the top three are small and the bottom is taller. The side of the wooden dovetail drawer box is showing againts the Stepped Shaker drawer fronts in Winter White.

What are dovetail drawer boxes?

Dovetail drawer boxes employ a pin and tail method of joinery to lock together the four sides of the drawer creating a very strong connection between the walls of the box. The pins are cut into the ends of one side of the box while the tails are cut into the joining piece. Adding a small amount of glue and locking the two pieces together creates a drawer box that doesn’t require screws to hold it together. Lesser drawer boxes use butt joints and either staples or screws to connect the four sides which can and will inevitably fail.  

Dovetail drawer boxes also add a sense of style and artisanship to your kitchen as the jig-saw puzzle look of the joinery is visible from the sides and harkens back to the days when such joints would have been made by hand with basic tools and not the modern machines of today.  

Dovetail joints have been used in all manner of construction including log houses in colonial days, stone works in India and even Egyptian furniture dating back to 3100 BC. With that sort of longevity there’s little doubt that a drawer box constructed with dovetail joinery can withstand the rigors of the 21st century kitchen.  

A side image of a kitchen cabinet dovetail drawer showing the dovetail joinery in the wooden drawer box.
A side view of a Nieu custom drawer showcasing the dovetail joinery of the wooden drawer box.

Are dovetail drawer boxes worth the investment?

A dovetail drawer box constructed from a birch or maple plywood coupled with a soft close undermount slide will outlive lesser drawer boxes joined with staples or screws. The single most requested upgrade when working with customers on their kitchen cabinet refacing project is upgrading builders grade melamine drawer boxes that have become wobbly or loose due to regular use.

While dovetail drawer boxes are more expensive than melamine drawers, their longevity and utility make them a worthwhile investment for any kitchen upgrade and the simple beauty of the artisan joinery acknowledges the timeless nature of good engineering.  

Where can I add dovetail drawer boxes to my kitchen?

Dovetail drawer boxes can replace any drawers currently in your cabinets. It is a straightforward process of measuring your current cabinet opening, height and depth and ordering custom drawer boxes to fit. An easy upgrade to your kitchen is to convert a standard base cabinet with doors and shelves into a pot and pan drawer stack.  

A pot and pan drawer stack typically consist of two deeper drawers on the bottom, usually 11’’ to 12” in height on the face, and a shallower 4” to 6″ drawer at the top. The two deep drawers are great for reorganizing pots and pans and make finding a matching lid and pot much easier than digging through standard base cabinets with shelves. The small drawer on the top usually serves as home for cutlery or as a utensil drawer for items such as spatulas and measuring cups.  

An image of four open drawers in kitchen cabinets with dovetail drawer boxes and white stepped shaker drawer fronts with squared black drawer pulls.
Dovetail drawer boxes paired with the Stepped Shaker drawer front in Winter White.

Do dovetail drawers improve resale value?

If you are refacing your kitchen cabinets to boost the resale value of your home consider replacing your drawer boxes as well. When prospective buyers are touring your home, they will open and close both a cabinet door and drawer to check for soft close upgrades. Upgraded cabinets doors like our selection of shaker cabinet doors and dovetail drawer boxes will impress buyers and let them know that you were mindful of both quality and utility when you upgraded your kitchen.  

The Summary:

Adding dovetail drawers to your refacing project provides an additional level of upgrade to your kitchen. If you’re getting started on your refacing project, use our free Design Quiz to find your style, watch our How To Measure video, and at any time Talk to an Expert if you need help. A custom looking kitchen is just a few clicks away!

Shaker Cabinet Doors: A History of Design

Shaker Cabinet Doors: A History of Design

The History of Shaker Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Shaker kitchen cabinet doors still dominate kitchen design 246 years after a subset of the English Quakers emigrated to America seeking freedom of religious expression and worship. Known as the Shaking Quakers for their ecstatic and physical style of worship, the Shakers were a modest people whose core values included humility, simplicity, celibacy, hard work and equality between the sexes. Their values are reflected in the simple, utilitarian design language of their furniture and cabinetry. The basic door construction reflected their practical approach to life and the lack of ornamentation affirms their humble character as they chose instead to focus on the quality of both construction and materials used.  

The Shaker community peaked at around 6000 members in the mid 1800’s along the East Coast of the US and was organized into commune style settlements where the collective worked to ensure the self-sufficiency of the greater group. Along with growing their own food and making tools, furniture was needed. Their religious views and practical nature entered into their work resulting in several simple yet enduring designs that have stood the test of time.  

Do you ever wonder why shaker-style tables and chairs often have tapered, light weight legs?

The Shakers, as their name may indicate, liked to dance, so their furniture was built to be light weight and easily moved aside for spiritual movements and dance. Eventually, these communities made enough furniture for their own needs and having embraced early generations of power tools and the simple construction of their furniture found they could produce enough to serve larger markets. This led to the spread of Shaker products from the tight-knit Shaker communes to the surrounding towns and villages, and beyond.  

What is a shaker style cabinet door?

Shaker cabinet doors are known and loved by homeowners and designers worldwide. A shaker door is comprised of four rails and a flat center panel, which distinguishes it from a raised panel door. High quality replacement cabinet doors in a shaker style can have one of the best impacts in your home to modernize your space and remodel your kitchen.  

An image labelling the parts of a shaker kitchen cabinet door as rail along the horizontal of the door edge, stile as the vertical door edge, and recessed center panel in the middle of the door.
Anatomy of a Shaker Door

Shaker Cabinet Door Design

Originally, Shaker cabinet doors were made from materials found easily in America in the 1800’s such as Cherry, Oak, Birch, Pine and Maple. Shaker furniture was typically stained or painted in colours determined by the sect that made them, common colors include red, green, blue, and yellow. Symmetry of design was important and inlays or decorative mouldings were not used as such devices of design were seen as deceitful or unholy. For the Shakers, a door was beautiful due to its function in the home and because it was well made and served a purpose.  

Mouldings and decorative embellishments served no purpose in a Shaker home and today designers still work in this style when designing a Shaker kitchen for your home. Many different styles of Shaker doors are available to the homeowner looking to bring some of this simple beauty into their home. Although cabinet door rail styles and widths may vary, and profiles add a bit more flair, but the basic foundation of a flat panel surrounded by four rails remains. 

Today, modern shaker doors are made with new materials such as exotic woods, aluminum and glass, and American staples such as maple and oak. Engineered woods wrapped in vinyl and polyester allow for unique treatments and can add texture to a door.  

Nieu Cabinet Doors – 8 Shaker Door Styles

At Nieu Cabinet Doors we have perfected the art of using high quality engineered MDF along with a 2-piece construction process to build custom cabinet doors. Our manufacturing techniques allow for the highest level of detailed finishing to produce the cleanest, most precise lines and profiles that would impress even a master Shaker cabinet maker.  

With a variety of rail widths and styles Shaker doors remain our best-selling door style. Offering 8 versions of Shaker doors, Nieu Cabinet Doors has a Shaker style that is sure to work in your home. A Shaker cabinet door is ideal for a DIY kitchen refacing project as this style of door lends itself to a kitchen without fancy trim or ornate mouldings. It really can be as simple as removing your old cabinet doors and replacing them with new doors and hardware.  

8 shaker style kitchen cabinet door styles in colors of white, beige, cream, grey, blue and green.
Our Shaker Cabinet Door Selection in 8 of Our Designer Curated Colors

Shaker Cabinet Doors in 2020

Today, shaker cabinet are not bound by any single interpretation of the original Shaker design. Shaker doors are available in a wide variety of styles and finishes and yes, some of them even have some degree of flair or ornamentation added to the rail profiles. A shaker door can work in any home and across design styles of traditional, contemporary, and transitional palettes.  

Although white is still the most popular color for a shaker door, bolder colors such as dark blues, teals and a variety of greys are finding their way into homes often as the base for a two-toned kitchen or to highlight an island or pantry wall. The simplicity of shaker means it can show the unique taste of a home without overwhelming the space, and can pair well with a statement countertop or other bold design choices.  

Do shaker cabinet doors improve resale value?

If the motivation for refacing your kitchen cabinets is resale, real estate agents will confirm that a Shaker door in a neutral color offers the broadest appeal for prospective buyers. Stick with handles or pulls that are simple and minimalist in design as they will offer the most cohesive look for your Shaker kitchen.  

An image of a gloomy kitchen with off-white cabinets, broken drawer fronts, and damage to the doors and drawers.
BEFORE: Broken drawer fronts and outdate raised panel doors.

“Nieu was the perfect solution for my clients. Their kitchen was in desperate need of an update to sell their home, but they didn’t want the timeline or price tag of a full kitchen renovation. Nieu Cabinet Doors completely refreshed their kitchen quickly and cost effectively. The order process was simple and the customer service was great, especially being able to call and walk through any questions. Their home sold the first day of showings!”

– Laura Waxter, Realtor for Coldwell Banker Pittsburgh
A bright, crisp kitchen with new shaker cabinet doors in white.
AFTER: Kitchen transformed with our Shaker door in Winter White.

How to use shaker cabinet doors in your kitchen:

DIY kitchen cabinet refacing is a project that homeowners with even minimal carpentry skills can tackle. If your kitchen layout works, your cabinet boxes are in good shape, and you own a few basic tools, you can achieve the Shaker look for your home. The basic steps to your DIY refacing project are:  

  • Take our free online design quiz or work with a designer to determine your shaker style and color  
  • Watch our instructional video on how to measure your kitchen for Nieu Shaker Doors  
  • Use our online order form to estimate and order your Nieu Shaker Doors  
  • Watch our how-to videos that cover all aspects of a DIY kitchen refacing project  
  • Install your Nieu Shaker Doors and speak with our technical expert at any time during the install for support  
  • When complete, raise a toast to the small group of craftspeople whose iconic design language is still relevant centuries later

Shaker cabinet doors are an iconic style that have endured centuries of design changes, and remain one of the most popular cabinetry choices in homes in 2020. Whether looking to update your kitchen to love where you live, or improve your resale value, our variations of shaker cabinet doors are sure to make you dance with joy in your Nieu kitchen.  

The Cost of Cabinet Refacing in an Investment Property

The Cost of Cabinet Refacing in an Investment Property

As a homeowner, your renovation budget is tight. As a landlord, it is much the same story. You need a durable, cost effective solution to attract and retain the best tenants without breaking the bank. At Nieu, we know how to maximize your home renovation dollar with cabinet refacing. We also know how to maximize your investment property upgrade.  

To give a real-life example we asked one of our clients who has over a decade of landlord experience to walk us through their kitchen transformation and cabinet refacing experience. The owners had clear priorities including: durability, boost to potential resale value, elevating the property from the ten-year-old builder’s basic finishes. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, doing so in a low-impact way so as not to disrupt rent paying tenants  

Why landlords choose cabinet refacing:

This project centers around a townhouse in a 10-year old development, that has been a rental since it was built. The current owners acquired the property two years ago, and painted the house from top to bottom, as well as made some other much needed improvements and repairs. With a fresh coat of paint and a general increase in upkeep, the existing kitchen soon became noticeable for its yellow looking cabinets and dysfunctional handle placement. The breakfast bar blocked the view of backyard park and the laminate countertops had begun to peel at the seams. With plans to sell the property within the next two years, the owners wondered what improvements could be made, on a tight budget, to transform this kitchen that is the heart of this open concept home. Their ultimate barometer was how to maximize their renovation ROI (return on investment) in the shortest amount of time.  

They chose cabinet refacing for their investment property because:  

  1. They needed to complete the project in a weekend while tenants were away.  
  2. The cabinet boxes were in solid condition. No need to replace everything, just needed some new doors.  
  3. A white, shaker cabinet door would improve the eventual resale value.  
  4. The kitchen layout is great, and it couldn’t change given the floorplan.  
  5. With new countertops, the cabinets could stay where they were, and saving money on a full kitchen remodel by refacing allowed them to purchase quartz counters.  
A large, u-shaped kitchen with brown wooden cabinet doors, a dark laminate countertops, black appliances, and stainless steel horizontal handles on the cabinet doors.

Visualize your kitchen refaced with Nieu Cabinet Doors

The homeowners wanted to visualize what the space would look like before making any larger financial decisions. They worked with our design team to have the space transformed in photorealistic 3D to show them two options. The first was with the breakfast bar remaining and counters and backsplash staying the same, and just ordering new doors but reusing the existing handles. The second design suggestion was to remove the breakfast bar, upgrade the countertop, make an impactful yet cost effective change to the handles, and install a new backsplash. The removal of the breakfast bar stood out as having the biggest change on modernizing the space, and since the counters needed to be replaced, it made sense to complete this step before ordering new panels and Shaker doors for the cabinet refacing part of the project.  

A computer rendering of an open concept u-shaped kitchen refaced with white shaker style cabinet doors. Pictured in the photo are barstools at a situp breakfast bar, black appliances, pendant lighting, dark hardwood floors, a dark countertop, and items on the counter.
Design 1: Kitchen transformed with Nieu doors only, and other kitchen elements remain the same.
A computer rendering of an open concept u-shaped kitchen refaced with white shaker style cabinet doors. Pictured in the photo are barstools at a situp peninsula, black appliances, pendant lighting, light hardwood floors, a white countertop, and items on the counter.
Design 2: Nieu doors combined with an updated countertop, backsplash, flooring and sink.

Kitchen Remodel Design Elements

To modernize this builder’s beige, slab cabinet door kitchen, the owners wanted a Shaker cabinet door to project a welcoming, bright, and modern-farmhouse style. The black appliances weren’t likely to change, but they wanted the design to still work with stainless if they or a future owner chose to swap them. This was presented in their design renderings which helped them to choose the following elements:  

  • Cabinet doors and drawer fronts: Stepped Shaker painted cabinet door in Winter White (Sherwin Williams Extra White)  
  • Cabinet pulls: Black, squared handles were used, all the same size for doors and drawers  
  • Countertop: White quartz counter with light, neutral speckles  
  • Backsplash: Kept the current dark glass subway tile  

Cabinet Refacing Cost

A pie chart showing the cost difference and items included in a kitchen refacing versus kitchen replacement project.

Our featured homeowners had a budget of $12,000 for the entire kitchen upgrade, and a short installation timeline to minimize disruption to paying tenants. They were quoted over $22,000 to rip everything out and replace the kitchen, with a minimum of one-week of installation, mess, and most importantly, tenants unable to make meals for the duration of a full kitchen replacement. Where did the savings come from by cabinet refacing instead of replacing? 

  1. Cost of new cabinet boxes. The old boxes were in excellent condition, and didn’t need to be removed and disposed of. Savings: approximately $4500. 
  2. Plumber/electrician. Maintaining the current layout of the kitchen meant no need for a plumber or electrician to re-route any of the lines or help with installation. Savings: approximately $2000   
  3. Installation. This DIY friendly project meant substantial savings on cabinet installation, and a faster time to complete the project. Savings: approximately $4500 and 5-7 days. 
  4. Backsplash. Careful removal of the old counter and installation of the new meant the existing backsplash was unscathed. This avoided the purchase and labor costs of replacing the backsplash. Savings: approximately $1200.

Saving more than 50% of the cost of replacing everything in this kitchen meant the homeowners could spend on “nice to haves” they hadn’t originally needed, like a new counter, sink and faucet, and upgraded cabinet pulls. Their project was budget friendly, tenant friendly, and completely transformed the space. 

Installing Cabinet Doors, Drawer Fronts, Panels and Trim for Cabinet Refacing

Cabinet refacing projects begin with removing the existing doors, drawer boxes, and existing panels. Generally, this can be accomplished in 2 hours-time. Next came installing large panels to reface the peninsula, fridge cabinet and the sides or gables of the upper and base cabinets. Cabinet edges can be painted and then toe kick, filler and light valence installed. Once the panels and trim were replaced it was time to get to the heart of a cabinet refacing project – installing new cabinet doors. The first step of hanging new cabinet doors is to mount the new soft close concealed hinges selected for this project. The doors came pre-drilled for hinges so it was quite easy to screw the new hinges onto the back of the doors with the supplied screws. Doors were then installed in the cabinets by fastening the hinge plates to the inside of the cabinets. It’s important to note that the doors weren’t readied for handles before they were mounted. This project proved why – once the cabinet doors were hung, the owners realized they wanted the handles in a different location than they originally planned. The drilling and installation of handles was the last step in bringing this kitchen together!  

A hand holds a measuring tape in front of an opening in a kitchen cabinet. Measuring the space for a new drawer front for refacing the kitchen.

This cabinet refacing project in a nutshell:

  • Eliminated the breakfast bar. Removed panel on the back of the breakfast bar and removed the breakfast bar ledge.  
  • Changed countertop. New countertop was selected – the owners chose quartz for its durability and to boost resale value. Counters were then measured, fabricated, and installed  
  • Updated sink and faucet. The new countertop allowed for a transition to an undermount sink and updated, modern faucet  
  • Measure cabinets for refacing. Doors, panels, trim, filler, and toe kick were measured for refacing.  
  • Order new cabinet doors and panels. The order with Nieu Cabinet Doors was placed.  
  • Receive and reface. The order arrived and was installed in just a few days  
  • Love your new kitchen. The landlords (and tenants) adored the new kitchen!  

Increasing Resale Value of an Investment Property

With the intention of selling this investment property within the next two years, realtors advised these homeowners that cabinet refacing was an effective way to maximize your resale value. In a townhouse complex where there hasn’t been a kitchen renovation to date, this helps to distinguish the property as a premium listing, when the time comes to sell.  

The Bottom Line  

A $20,000+ kitchen gut and renovation wasn’t financially feasible for these homeowners, or possible with tenants, and it wasn’t necessary. The existing cabinet boxes were in good shape and the layout of the kitchen was ideal. With advice from a realtor, refacing the kitchen cabinets was the most economical and impactful change the homeowners could make to increase the value of their investment property. Nieu Cabinet Doors was able to provide painted Shaker doors and drawer fronts that were affordable, stylish, and delivered on time allowing for a hassle-free renovation. Seeing the savings and the potential for the new look of the kitchen prompted the owners to spend the remaining kitchen budget on upgrading the countertop – something they wouldn’t have been able to do if they had to replace the cabinet boxes.  

Nieu took this kitchen from builder’s grade to beautiful, at a price that can’t be beat!